After several day trips on Lake
Opossum, I was able to plan a trip down the Conodoguinet Creek.
is a 104-mile tributary of the Susquehanna River in South Central
Pennsylvania.It is an outflow of Lake
Opossum.After the stream passes a
Carlisle municipal water treatment plant with no portage trail possible, about
35 miles remain before joining the Susquehanna.It is well described by its Native American name, meaning “a long way
with many bends,” as well as a continual series of riffles and Class I rapids.It has one 130-foot long covered bridge in
Cumberland County, not in the section I would be paddling, that was built in
1870.There were four other covered
bridges that have all since been swept away in flood waters or replaced with
I would do a 13.5 mile stretch that
was all floatable except for the low-head dam that needed to be lined or
portaged shortly after launching.The
water level was low, but in spite of bumping a few times, was a lot of
fun.At one point there is a series of
five rapids as the creek passes under an Appalachian Trail bridge.Several hikers lined the bridge railing with
their cameras to document my demise, but all went well.
A small rock sculpture done in mid-stream likely to last only
until the next freshet.
The water was crystal clear and alive
with fish.The rock formations in the
bottom were interesting, but the edges of the layered shale rocks looked razor
sharp, suggesting the obvious desire for a helmet in higher water levels.We followed several busy highways, including
parts of the Pennsylvania Turnpike and I-81, as well as commercial sites.Yet the creek appeared pristine and wild.Except for an occasional siren or whining
motorcycle, which were hardly audible, the only sounds were birds.There were a lot of birds including heron,
owls, orioles, egrets and others.I even
got a visit from a water snake.Our
daughter had been watching my SPOT track.I hadn’t planned on an end point before I put in, and didn’t know where
I would stop, but with only a couple hours of daylight left, she decided on the
park that she felt would be an obvious take-out, and was sitting there waiting
for me when I pulled up to the ramp that afternoon.We have such a smart daughter.